I believe each of us can think of one or two people, aside from our parents, who have had a tremendous impact upon our lives and careers. That person for me was Short Tompkins. Short passed away on April 17th, it was my privilege to do his eulogy and I would like to dedicate this week?s column in his memory.
ARTHUR BERNARD TOMPKINS ? What a grand name for someone who would spend his life known simply as ?Short?. Short in stature perhaps, but truly a giant of a man when it came to ambition, work ethic, courage, integrity and good old fashioned ?common sense?.
Short was born on October 13th, 1924 in Pouce Coupe and grew up on his family?s ranch at the junction of the Peace and Halfway rivers. His one-year courtship with Audrey Waite led to their wedding on May 30, 1951. Since then they?ve spent their entire lives raising their family and working in the BC Peace country.
Short had a powerful moral compass ? he knew right from wrong, and like any good leader, and he was one of the best I?ve ever met? he never hesitated to share those opinions he felt worthy of sharing. He was also a bit of a contradiction, because in spite of the strength of his convictions, his ambition, and his willingness to roll up his sleeves to get the job done, he somehow always remained humble.
He didn?t believe in asking anyone to do something he wasn?t prepared to take on himself. Short always impressed me with the thought he put into his choice of words and the quiet strength he exuded. In all the years I knew him, I never once saw Short lose his temper or even raise his voice.
Although I worked one winter in the late seventies running cat for Tompkins Contracting, my friendship with Short began to take shape when he helped convince me to run for the Reform Party in 1988. He was my first Campaign Manager. He served two terms on the National Executive for the Reform Party of Canada and was a candidate himself in the Yukon for the 1993 Federal Election.
When Short made a commitment, he was in it for the long haul. At his own expense he attended every national assembly over the nineteen year history of the party. He served locally as a trustee with School District #60 and as a Regional District Director. He was also involved in Toast Masters, as a Shiner and the Royal Canadian Legion. Talk about a full life.
Two things I?ll always remember about Short?. how he jingled the change in his pocket when he spoke at a microphone and his insistence that a man?s hair, including mine, should always be neatly cut?. and above-all, short! On the day Short passed away, he went to the barber. Even by his standards, this cut was one of the shortest he?d had in quite a while? as though he knew it would have to last a long time.
A.B. ?Short? Tompkins: 1924 ? 2006.